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Silk Roads: The Asian Adventures of Clara and Andre Malraux [Paperback]

Axel Madsen
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

12 July 2010
André and Clara Malraux had the world at their feet. Wealthy and carefree, their life was a bohemian idyll, spent frequenting the hottest clubs and restaurants, travelling and mingling with the Paris literary set. But all this changed when the stock market crashed and their fortune disappeared overnight. Penniless but still craving adventure, André dreamt up a plan to travel to French Indochina where they would collect temple treasures and sell them for a huge profit in America. Against all the odds - jungle fevers, inexperience and uncooperative locals - they succeeded. But their treasure hunt turned into a dangerous crusade when Clara and André set up an anti-government newspaper in Saigon, defiantly exposing colonial injustices, corruption and the government's stifling of Asian culture. Silk Roads is a story of romance and adventure, crime and political awakenings, but it also paints a picture of the volatile relationship between two extraordinary people: André - gifted, intense, who would later become one of France ' most celebrated literary figures - and Clara - vivacious, independent, but forced to live in her husband's long shadow.

Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: I B Tauris & Co Ltd (12 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848851901
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848851900
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 12.5 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,293,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Axel Madsen (born May 27, 1930) was a Danish-American biographer and journalist. Born in Copenhagen and raised in Paris, Madsen turned from music to writing in the early 1950s, initially for the Paris edition of the New York Herald Tribune. In 1956 he moved to Canada and began working for United Press International. He moved to Hollywood in the early 1960s.

Biographies included Billy Wilder, Barbara Stanwyck, Coco Chanel, John Jacob Astor, Jacques Cousteau, Yves St. Laurent, André Malraux, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, William C. Durant, William Wyler, and John Huston.

He died of cancer in Los Angeles in 2007.

Product Description


"Though the marriage didn't last, its story entertains, as do details of the Malrauxs' individual activities after the divorce." --"Publishers Weekly" "A wordy but intriguing biography" -- "Wanderlust"

"A superb account of their trip, this is also a moving portrait of a relationship inspired by travel . . . Funny, hair-raising and ultimately sad, and the reader is left in no doubt that Clara lived by her own maxims." -- Clover Stroud, "Sunday Telegraph"

About the Author

Axel Madsen was a biographer and journalist. Born in Denmark and raised in Paris, he first began writing for the Paris edition of the New York Herald Tribune. He moved to Los Angeles in the 1960s, where he wrote biographies of Coco Chanel, Billy Wilder, John Jacob Astor and Jacques Cousteau among others. He died in 2007.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A long gone era with contemporary echoes 18 Aug 2012
By Acorn
Tens of thousands of young men volunteered to join armies in the First World War - the `Great War' as it was called by its advocates. But the grinding years of trench warfare, the horrors of new armaments such as tanks and mustard gas, and the realisation that most of the military leaders were at best incompetent and uncaring left a deep and abiding cynicism in the wake of the war's end. The 1920s saw a backlash against the old establishment order and its rules, and a commitment to hedonism and finding new ways forward for society. Communism, which had taken hold in Russia during the latter years of the war, was seen by many European intellectuals as the saving force for society.

André and Clara Malraux, a newly married couple in post-war France, in many ways typified the spirit of this age. They were both well-educated, highly cynical about the old order which had given birth to them, left-leaning in their politics and committed to exploring fresh perspectives and new ways of thinking. They were inveterate travellers and fascinated by global politics. They eventually divorced, and in later years André became a well-known writer and novelist, and ironically, a minister in two conservative governments under Charles de Gaulle. He was very famous in his day, though his fame has not weathered the ravages of time as well as others of his generation. Clara also pursued a literary career and as well as nine fiction and non-fiction works, published a six-volume autobiography, only two volumes of which have been translated into English. She was overshadowed by the popularity of her former husband's works and his flair for making grand, if often vacuous, public gestures.
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
3.0 out of 5 stars Spoiled Brats 30 Jun 2013
By Mark William Levy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book chronicles the Asian adventure of the Malraux couple, who, as a pair of young and rather devious travelers, engaged in antics including the (intended) theft of national treasures from Cambodia to finance their over-privileged lifestyle.
Although Malraux later became serious about politics and managed some heroics during WWII before taking his place as a fixture of France's pantheon of Great Men of the Republic, one gets the feeling that part of the mystique of Malraux derived from boundless egotism and a somewhat unwholesome ambition.
The book is rather hastily put together and contains some bad typos or errors...but on the whole is a lively and interesting account of the ambiguous career of a remarkable man.
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